You Really Thought You Ate

The changes school lunches have gone through after the Universal Free Meal program.

October Marquez, Staff Reporter

The changes school lunches have gone through after the Universal Free Meal program.

School lunches this year are very different from last year. Schools no longer operate under the Universal Free Meal program, which has changed lunch for many students on its own.

The Food Service Department of the Troy School District echoes this opinion of lunch improvement. “I’d say food quality has definitely improved this year,” Troy School District Food Service Director, Nicole Gervais said, “although I feel there’s always room for improvement.”

Many of the issues with school lunch quality last year were due to auto-substitutions, which are similar foods of varying quality and ingredients, which are currently “not as frequent,” according to Gervais. These auto-substitutions happened because of staff shortages in factories last year, which led to supply shortages. While there are still auto-substitutions, it is important to note that these are not nearly to the same extent as last year.

Senior Eva Jaku comments on the new lunches, “It helps me perform better in my classes,” reports Jaku. She explains that Troy High School students now have lunches they are more willing to eat, fewer students go for seconds and she feels the meals are more nutritious.

This year, there are more lunch options available for students with certain eating restrictions. “We now offer vegan and Halal options,” added Gervais, “which is super exciting considering we have such a diverse population.” These menu additions are available for all students, helping the school cafeteria serve a larger variety of students.

Still, there are some problems with going back to our old system, such as the lines taking longer to get through. “It takes away from my lunch time in general,” says Jaku about the experience in the back of the line.

According to Assistant Principal Dan House, this wait time is due to the transition away from the Universal Free Meal program. “Now it’s not just passing out free lunches, they have to go through and pay for the lunches,” which drastically slows down the speed of the lunch lines. 

House does however note that this is “getting a little bit better just because the people at the counter are able to process quicker.” As this process is renewed, there is hope for the time spent in line to be cut down so students have more time to eat and socialize.

Another lunchtime problem is the line leading into the hallway of the commons area, blocking a lot of student travel during lunches, especially for students going to a fourth hour near the gym. Students have trouble navigating their way out of the area and it’s proven to cause some issues for students after getting their lunches.  “It’s very awkward, I’ve seen people drop their lunches because of it,” adds Jaku. This problem has the possibility of being addressed with the bond as the school works to fix circulation issues, and the kitchen equipment upgrades could also help speed up the process of getting everyone a lunch.

A lot of these problems with the lunches and the flow of the lunchroom are either currently being fixed or have the possibility of a solution later. As the district and school work towards solutions, students can better their treatment of the lunchroom. According to House, “Students are cleaning up after themselves a lot better,” but he reminds students to continue efforts to keep the lunchroom clean.